MEARS RETURNS FOR "TURKEY NIGHT" DOUBLE-DUTY; WILL PILOT SPRINT CAR AND MIDGET AT IRWINDALE Daytona 500 runner-up and former USAC Champion Casey Mears of Bakersfield, Calif. will return to his home state and to USAC competition ...
MEARS RETURNS FOR "TURKEY NIGHT" DOUBLE-DUTY; WILL PILOT SPRINT CAR AND MIDGET AT IRWINDALE
Daytona 500 runner-up and former USAC Champion Casey Mears of Bakersfield, Calif. will return to his home state and to USAC competition November 23 as a participant in this year's 66th "Turkey Night Grand Prix" at the Irwindale Speedway.
Mears will pilot a Midget for Piedmont, Calif. car owner Bob Rosen and a Sprint Car for Fairfield Calif. car owner Ted Finkenbinder in the historic open-wheel classic.
Mears will team with long-time friend Tony Hunt in Rosen cars for the 100-lap Midget race. Both will be seeking their initial "Turkey Night" Midget victory. Mears piloted Finkenbinder's USAC Western Sprint Car at Irwindale five years ago and finished fifth in a race won by Hunt. Mears' Beast Sprint Car is powered by an aluminum SB2 Chevrolet engine, while his Beast Midget will have a Fontana powerplant.
"I'm really excited about it," says Mears. "I had a lot of fun in '01 at Irwindale and actually wanted to try this last year but was unable to put it together in time. I started planning earlier this year and fortunately with Tony's (Hunt) help we were able to get it all together. I've never had the opportunity to run a Midget before, so that'll be different. Turkey Night is a big race and it would sure be nice to do well. Irwindale is a good basic oval and the challenge will be to get comfortable in the car. Having run there before, I think the high groove is the place to be so we'll see what happens, but it's going to be fun. The Sprint car is a new car although Ted was my car owner when I ran there in 2001, so it'll be nice to renew the acquaintance. It's a great opportunity for me and I hope to make the best of it."
Driving for Chip Ganassi Racing at Daytona, Mears finished second to Jimmie Johnson. Last month, he again finished second at Kansas Speedway behind race winner Tony Stewart. In 2004 he won the pole starting position for the famed Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The son of off-road legend Roger Mears and nephew of four-time Indianapolis 500 champion Rick Mears, Casey is a former USAC champion, winning the 1995 Russell Pro Triple Crown title.
Mears will be part of a star-studded field of drivers competing on one of America's finest short tracks in one of the nation's most prestigious traditional racing events.
Between the Sprint Cars, Midgets and Ford Focus Midgets which will be competing in separate events on the track's 1/2-mile and 1/3-mile ovals, a total of 150 cars are expected.
Tickets for the Turkey Night Grand Prix can be purchased on line at www.irwindalespeedway.com or by calling (626) 358-1100.